Several cities had bond, levy and other questions on the ballot for the November 3, 2015 election. We will briefly cover the results of these ballot measures.
· Voters in McCall approved local option taxes to fund maintenance of city streets and sidewalks. The proposal includes a 1 percent local option sales tax (which excludes groceries and car sales) and a 3 percent local option lodging tax. The annual revenue expected to be generated from the taxes is $800,000, and the taxes will be in effect for 10 years.
· McCall voters narrowly defeated a citizen initiative seeking to phase in increases in the minimum wage. The proposal would have increased the minimum wage to $8.75 per hour effective January 1, 2016 and to $10.25 per hour effective January 1, 2017. This was one of the most closely watched ballot measures in the state.
· Sandpoint voters approved a 1 percent local option sales tax for five years to fund a $2.7 million project to construct new grandstands at Barlow Stadium at War Memorial Field, home of The Festival at Sandpoint.
· Stanley voters reauthorized the city’s local option sales tax at 2.5 percent. The tax generates approximately $200,000 a year and is dedicated for city facilities and streets, public safety services, capital improvements, and matching funds for grants.
· Voters in Melba approved allowing sale of liquor by the drink in the city. Currently, bars are only able to sell beer and wine. The measure only needed a simple majority to pass and received 56 percent of the vote.
· A $2.2 million sewer bond passed in Notus with 73 percent support. The project will replace portions of the city’s collection system and complete lagoon improvements, preparing the city to meet future discharge permit requirements.
· A citizen initiative in Salmon seeking to ban the use of city property for a whitewater park was soundly defeated. A group of residents has proposed such a park for kayakers and river surfers on the Salmon River west of downtown. Proponents say the whitewater park will attract tourists and strengthen the local economy, as well as provide enhanced recreational opportunities for residents.
· A proposal to increase the City of Blackfoot’s electrical franchise fee from 1 to 3 percent was defeated. The revenue would have been dedicated to needed street maintenance in the city.
· Voters in Lava Hot Springs overwhelmingly reauthorized the city’s local option taxes. The city levies a 3 percent tax on lodging, a 2 percent tax on alcohol by the drink, and a 2 percent tax on retail sales (excluding groceries, building materials and motor vehicles). A separate proposal to dedicate some of the revenue for a new city hall narrowly failed to get the required 60 percent approval. The city receives approximately $225,000 in local option tax revenue annually.
· A proposed $23 million bond to fund construction of a wastewater treatment plant was defeated in Kimberly. Currently, Kimberly relies on Twin Falls to treat its wastewater and it was hoped that constructing the city’s own facility would help in attracting new businesses and growth.
· City of Boise voters overwhelmingly passed a two-year override levy to provide $10 million for protection and preservation of open space, recreational access and habitat protection in the Foothills and the Boise River.
· Voters in the City of Pierce approved a proposed $2.1 million revenue bond for wastewater treatment facilities.
· Voters in the City of Weippe approved issuing $1.6 million in revenue bonds for improvements to the city’s sewer system and treatment facility.
· The City of Priest River passed a sewer revenue bond for $3.3 million of improvements to the city’s collection system and treatment facilities.
· Citizens in Rigby voted to keep in place a city ordinance banning Sunday sales of liquor by the drink.
· Voters in the city of Hazelton narrowly rejected a proposed ordinance allowing residents to own up to six chickens.